It wasn't exactly love at first sight when a friend handed Stacey Marchel a paddleboard for the first time - but the veteran surfer quickly came around after giving it a try on the water.
"I started to ride a wave with it … and that's when I fell in love with it," recalls Marchel, a Margate resident and surfing instructor. "There is a very Zen experience to it … the diversity of what you can do with it is what is so great about the sport."
Stand-up paddleboarding enthusiasts will get the chance to show off their skills with Marchel this Saturday during two different stand-up paddleboard races, one of several new events taking place at this year's Beachstock in Margate.
The fourth annual daylong beachfest, billed as "the planet's biggest beach party," brings out more than 12,000 attendees to Granville Avenue beach in Margate. The day includes live music and entertainment on two stages, food, a beer garden, children's activities, crafters, vendors, amusements and games.
Throughout the afternoon, band finalists in the second annual Bud Light Battle by the Beach will compete for a grand prize of $1,000 and $300 of recording studio time. The finals begin at 12:30 p.m. on the 100.7-FM WZXL main stage, with judges Tommy T-Bone of WZXL and Todd Jones from Buck London Productions selecting the winning band at 4:30 p.m.
The 95.1-FM WAYV Children's Stage will include live entertainment and additional children's activities. Children can participate in a treasure hunt, sand sculpting, free surf lessons from Stacey's Surf Camp, sack races and what is described as "the biggest outdoor shower on the planet" every 30 minutes, courtesy of the Margate Fire Department.
This year's Beachstock will include three new events: a one-mile swim competition beginning at 8:30 a.m.; two stand-up paddleboard races (individual and team relay) beginning at 9:30 a.m.; and a volleyball tournament with five courts that starts at 10 a.m.
Organizers have also moved the popular sunset movie on the beach - this year, it's "The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie" - to the park, in order to make room for what has been dubbed a "monster bonfire" to cap off the day. The popular local rock band Seven Stone will play on the beach until 10 p.m.
The new events are a natural extension of a festival that celebrates a city by the ocean, says Ed Berger, president of the Margate Business Association.
"We look at (Beachstock) after every year and say, 'What can we do to make this better?'" Berger says. "We got very lucky this year. I always wanted to do volleyball on the beach. We have Stacey (Marchel) running our free surf camp and she's doing the stand-up paddleboard, which is huge right now. And with the mile swim, we were very fortunate that Al Jewitt came in and said he'd run it."
Marchel, who has run a free surf camp at every Beachstock, says she was excited to add stand-up paddleboarding to the roster of events this year. She hopes the races will bring out novices and paddleboarding pros alike – and she worked hard to craft races that will please both.
"Since paddleboarding is the fastest growing water sport, we thought it would be nice to incorporate that," Marchel says. "It's a nice addition to Beachstock. We came up with this ocean race – we're trying to make it a less intimidating and fun race, but still challenging."
Marchel says paddleboarding has grown so popular because the sport appeals to everyone and - while there is a technique to it -there is a quick learning curve.
"I'm happy to support Beachstock because I like that they embrace the ocean," Marchel says. "Nobody else has really done that. It's Margate's greatest asset."
With the exception of food, beverages and face painting, all Beachstock activities are free. No beach tags are needed at the fairgrounds.
Anna-Maria Blescia, executive director of the Margate Business Association, says organizers have spent the last year working hard to ensure anyone who comes to Beachstock will find something fun to do.
"If someone comes to this and doesn't find something they like to do, then I'm at a loss," Blescia says. "We have tried to think about every age and every type of person that could be there and have something for them to enjoy. That's our goal."
Schedule of Events
7:30 to 8:15 a.m. - Beachstock Mile Swim Registration (Canceled due to rough surf conditions. Registration will be refunded.)
8:30 a.m. - Mile Open Water Swim Begins (Canceled due to rough surf conditions. Registration will be refunded.)
9 a.m. - Volleyball registration
9:30 a.m. - Paddleboarding begins (Canceled due to rough surf conditions. Registration will be refunded.)
9:45 a.m. - National Anthem, performed by Senni Bloom on the 100.7 WZXL Main Stage
9:50 a.m. - Introduction of Margate Commissioners
10 a.m. - Beachstock Volleyball Tournament Begins
10:30 a.m. - Senni Bloom, 100.7 WZXL Main Stage
11 a.m. - Mia Bergman, 100.7 WZXL Main Stage
11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. - Music, games and giveaways presented by 100.7 WZXL Main Stage
11:30 a.m. - Food and beer garden opens, vendor booths open, sand sculpting by Matthew Deibert and children's sand sculpting instruction, Alissa Dirato face painting, hair braiding, clay station, bocce ball, shuffleboard, Margate Police Ident-A-Kid Program, slide and obstacle course amusements
11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. - Water balloon toss, hula hoop contest, potato sack races on 95.1 WAYV Kids Stage
11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. - Margate Fire Department "5 Minute Cool Blast" at the top and bottom of every hour
Noon to 3 p.m. - Free skin cancer screening by Dr. Carroccia
Noon to 4 p.m. - Kid's Variety Entertainment, Margate Soul Line Dancers – 95.1 WAYV Kids Stage
12:30 to 2:30 p.m. - Tug of War, obstacle course, tire flip (all ages welcome)
12:30pm to 4 p.m. - Bud Light Battle by the Beach – Finalist Band Competition - 100.7 WZXL Main Stage
1 to 3 p.m. - Stacey's Surf Camp
3 p.m. - Children's treasure hunt
3:30 p.m. - Tow At Surf demonstration
4:30 to 6:30 p.m. - Motherload performs on the 100.7 WZXL Main Stage
6 p.m. - Lifeguard competitions
6:30 to 7:30 p.m. - The Change performs on the 100.7 WZXL Main Stage
7:30 p.m. - Bonfire lighting on the beach
8 to 10 p.m. - Seven Stone on 100.7 WZXL Main Stage
8:30 p.m. - Free sunset movie, "The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie"
Free Jitney shuttle on at Tighe School on Essex and Amherst avenues.